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Fact Sheet Number 704
WHAT IS HERBALISM?
Healers in many different health traditions
use herbs. This fact sheet discusses
herbs as a part of traditional Chinese
A project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
Traditional Chinese medicine is at least
2,500 years old. It views the human body
as a system of energy flows. When these
flows are balanced, the body is healthy.
Practitioners take their patients’ pulses
and examine their tongues to diagnose
energy imbalances. In Chinese medicine,
pulses can be taken at three positions on
each wrist, and at three depths at each
Illness is not defined by symptoms or the
name of a disease like “HIV infection.”
Instead, a practitioner of Chinese
imbalances. The language can sound
very strange, like “yin deficiency” or “liver
heat rising.” The Chinese words yin and
yang refer to opposing energies that
should be in balance, and Qi (pronounced
“chee”) can be roughly translated as
energy or life force.
In traditional Chinese medicine, there are
many ways to improve the balance of the
body’s energy flows. The most common
techniques used in the western world are
exercise techniques such as Qigong or
Tai Chi, acupuncture, and herbalism. Fact
Sheet 703 has more information on
Many practitioners of Chinese medicine
in either acupuncture or
herbalism. Very few use both methods.
WHY DO PEOPLE WITH HIV
USE CHINESE HERBALISM?
Chinese herbs do not cure HIV infection.
Many people, however, believe that the
herbs have helped them improve their
overall energy, or deal with the side
(ARVs). Some people have used herbs to
reduce the upset stomach or diarrhea
caused by their medications.